Senator Scott Brown and Dr. Jay Fleitman
I'm pleased to see that there was a major article yesterday in the Hampshire Gazette about Dr. Jay Fleitman, one of two Republican challengers to longtime incumbent Congressman Richard Neal. I was happy because as near as I can remember it is the first time in over a decade that I've seen any local newspaper devote that much ink to anything political involving Neal. Perhaps that's not so surprising, considering that Neal has not had to defend his seat in an election since 1996.
Unfortunately the article was obviously biased against Fleitman, especially in a sidebar called Where Fleitman Stands in which Fleitman was allowed to comment directly on some of the issues. However in an odd journalistic twist, commentaries were inserted after Fleitman's quotes to refute what he was saying. For example on the subject of the failed stimulus bill the first paragraph quotes Dr. Fleitman:
Fleitman opposed last year's $787 billion spending package, calling it "more of a laundry list of pork" that Democrats had been waiting to fund. "I would have done this in a much more limited fashion," he says. "I've been through a lot of recessions, and some have been much worse ... I'm convinced the economy would have bounced back on its own."
Then what follows in the very next paragraph are these Democrat Party talking points:
Democrats such as Neal have argued that drastic measures like the stimulus bill and the bank bailout were needed last year; some economists said an even bigger stimulus bill would have been better. President Obama recently said unemployment might be 20 percent today had the bill not passed, and he criticized some Republican legislators for opposing the bill but then attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies in their districts for construction projects funded by the legislation.
Lest anyone think that the Hampshire Gazette was merely trying to be balanced, on that very same day elsewhere in the paper, an interview with Congressman Neal features quotes by Neal on the issues in a similar format. These are presented with absolutely no rebuttal paragraphs inserted after Neal's comments, as was done in the Fleitman article. Apparently the Hampshire Gazette feels that the Republican challenger should not be allowed to present his views unless tempered by the insertion of rebuttals, but the Democrat incumbent is allowed to make any comments he wishes completely unchallenged.
The interview with Neal is the longest interview I've seen in any local paper with him in over a decade. It is also interesting that Neal's interview appears the same day as the Fleitman profile. Is that a mere coincidence? Just last week an incident occurred where someone representing Neal contacted the Jim Polito radio show, which is heard in the Worcester branch of the district, and demanded to be allowed on the air because the other one of Neal's challengers, social conservative Tom Wesley, had been on earlier. Did the Neal camp catch wind of the Fleitman article and demand to appear in the Gazette just as they did at the Polito Show? Whatever the case may be, it is indeed intriguing that both articles appeared on the exact same day.
Yet despite the Fleitman article's generally biased tone, it is important simply because it treats the race as what it really is - the biggest and most important local contest coming up this election year in Western Mass. It would be advantageous to Neal to keep this race below the media radar screen, the better to help him just glide back into office by force of habit. The Hampshire Gazette's willingness to print such a high-profile article on one of Neal's challengers shows that Neal's re-election bid will apparently not be helped this year by the media black-out that it usually gets.
To read the entire article by Steve Pfarrer on Dr. Fleitman click here.
On the Bus
Great news from the Pranksters! Ken Babbs novel based on his experiences as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, 48 years in the works, is finally finished and been sold to a publisher. Here's the Captain himself to tell you all about it, as well as a little anecdote about the time he and Ken Kesey took the bus to Las Vegas.
My friend told me once that he could tell what kind of a person somebody was by what car they drove. I scoffed at that theory, saying, "What about me? I don't even own a car!"
My friend looked at me with a sly grin and replied, "Actually that tells me a great deal."
The bus came by....
....and I got on, that was how it all began.
Yellow peace-house out the bus window.
For a Laugh
Abe Lincoln himself showed up at the Longmeadow Republican Town Committee the other night. Here is the president greeting Mary and Dean Rogeness.
This is a local satire of Wednesday's non-snow event.
Last night Jay Libardi visited me in a dream.
The only answer that I have found
Above the sky or below the ground
Is that there are no answers
There never were any answers
There will never be any answers
That's the answer.
Now go out and stuff the universe into your eyes.